On December 27, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, presented the 2022 government performance report at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel and discussed the plans. Members of the government, MPs, foreign diplomats and representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church attended the presentation.
War in Ukraine
Summarizing last year, Prime Minister Garibashvili named the full-scale war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine as one of the biggest challenges in the world, which “had a profound impact on the European continent, as well as on our region and our country.”
The Prime Minister noted that “this very difficult challenge” requires “very smart management” and added that the government has been pursuing the right policy since the beginning of the war. “Our task should be protecting the national interests of our country… It is with this motivation, with this idea that we act and carry out the policy that our people and their interests need first”, he underscored.
Irakli Garibashvili reaffirmed Georgia’s support for “Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.” “We are very concerned about this war. I want to reiterate my support for the Ukrainian people. I wish them peace and a swift end to this war,” PM added.
The European Commission giving Georgia a European perspective was the highlight of the year, something “very difficult to imagine previously,” PM said. According to Prime Minister Garibashvili, “this war [referring to the war in Ukraine] accelerated the process.” Georgia anticipated earning candidate status like Ukraine and Moldova, “however, we understand that this was a wholly political decision,” he added.
“At his point, not giving Georgia the candidacy was not a merit-based decision. However, we believe that our country will soon be granted the [candidate] status,” PM said, adding that his confidence derives from the successful reforms “we all have implemented together.”
“The 12 recommendations issued for our country [to implement], have been scrupulously fulfilled by the Parliament and the Government with everybody’s participation. Now we are waiting for the decision of our European colleagues,” the Georgian Prime Minister highlighted and noted that the Georgian Dream government is to be commended for all the positive developments made in the past ten years on the path to European integration.
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The country’s economy has grown by 10%, the Prime Minister noted while presenting the report, and he predicted that by 2023, the gross domestic product per capita will be around USD 8,000. He also mentioned that export figures had significantly increased over the last two years and that, according to the data from January to November, trade turnover had increased by 32% as well.
He also spoke about the increase in revenues from tourism, road and rail transportation, as well as foreign direct investments. The latter, according to him, has increased by 100%.
The Prime Minister emphasized the need for further development of the energy sector and the importance of completing the suspended energy projects to ensure the country’s energy security and independence.
Additionally, he referred to the recent agreement that Georgia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, and Romania inked in Bucharest about the building of a 1,100 km long strategic submarine electricity cable in the Black Sea and compared its historical significance to that of the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi project.
Poverty and Unemployment
Speaking about high economic growth, PM Garibashvili also named poverty and unemployment as “the key challenge” facing the country, saying that the government aims to overcome poverty and reduce unemployment “in the shortest time possible.”
He also focused on the reduction of unemployment in the third quarter of 2022, noting that 229,000 new jobs were created from the second quarter of 2021 through the third quarter of 2022 with 209,000 persons employed outside the public sector.
Speaking about the infrastructure projects, PM Garibashvili noted that more than 5,000 projects were implemented in 2022, which involved 25,000 persons and up to 1,200 companies.
“More than a half of the international highway, linking the East with the West, has already been built. In 2022, the works were underway on the 118th kilometer of the highway, including on the Rikoti section,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the construction of this highway, as well as the Kakheti highway, will end in 2024.
Speaking about the strategic projects, PM Garibashvili focused on the Anaklia Deep Sea Port project, reiterating that the government will contribute to the building of and own 51% of the Anaklia port.
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The Prime Minister said that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project will complete in 2024. “One of our key interests is to transform our country into an energy and transport hub,” he stressed.
Irakli Garibashvili also focused on the potential of Georgia as a digital corridor connecting Europe and Asia and, in this context, he voiced the plans to create “a technological hub” in the former building of the Georgian Parliament in Kutaisi.
Speaking about Georgia’s occupied regions, PM Garibashvili named peace policy as the key priority of the Georgian government, noting that “we want to end this conflict, this terrible tragedy peacefully and to reconcile so that we all live together in united, strong and European Georgia.”
“If our country is united, we can invest about [USD] 10 billion in Abkhazia and Samachablo; it can be organized very easily, we have thought about it and discussed this issue at the economic council,” the PM said, adding that Abkhazia has a potential “to become the second Monaco and Sokhumi – the second Monte Carlo.”
He also highlighted the performance of the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, stressing that a lot of people living beyond the dividing lines enjoy the services offered by the Georgian government. “230 students were enrolled last year, more than 1,300 people were provided healthcare services and this aid will continue in the future.”
“Our common task should be to unite our country; this should be the key task our nation should unite around,” PM Garibashvili said, adding that “unfortunately, our opponents are talking about everything, except for the issues that are important for our country and our people.”
The Georgian Prime Minister also noted that more than 29,000 internally displaced families received apartments after the Georgian Dream came to power and this process continues. He added that 13,000 more families will receive apartments within the next three years.